The battle over the role that guns should play in our national life has been intensifying in recent months. And rightly so. The murderous attack in San Bernardino, and the string of mass shootings that came before that, should be a wake-up call that our relationship with firearms is unhealthy.
America’s gun problem is far more serious than even many gun control proponents want to face but there’s still hope, says ShootingAuthority. The private killing sprees that have become so common in our land are a symptom of a deeper pathology. The violence that we inflict on ourselves is only a pale shadow of the terror and bloodshed that we unleash beyond our national borders.
Courtland Milloy got it right when he wrote in a recent column for The Washington Post, “We may mourn, if ever so briefly, for innocent victims of a mass shooting, but we will not flinch when a U.S. drone unleashes Hellfire missiles on, say, a wedding party in Yemen.” Our willingness to tolerate the massacre of innocent civilians in other countries belies our outrage at the violence experienced by our own citizens.
This is not just a Republican or Democrat issue. Our whole country has a violence addiction problem. The United States has spent $598.5 billion on warmaking in 2015 alone. This staggering sum was approved on a bipartisan basis. 2nd Amendment champions and gun control advocates united around the most colossal expenditures for organized violence the world has ever known.
For a nation in which 77% of us identify as followers of the crucified savior, this is astonishing. How is it that we are virtually unanimous in our consent to an endless cascade of state-sanctioned carnage? Regardless of any veneer of religious commitment, we glorify violence as a symbol of strength, safety, and national redemption. Is it any surprise that we’re killing one another with small arms? War-making is baked into our national character.
I believe that my country would benefit from stricter gun laws. But let’s be clear: Gun control won’t save us from this madness. It won’t protect us from the devastation that we are experiencing in our homes, schools, and streets. Legislation alone can’t overcome this kind of sickness. Even if the United States banned personal ownership of firearms tomorrow, the spirit of violence and domination would continue to grip our nation. Who will rescue us from this body of death?
There is a living alternative available to us. It is a path that requires immense courage, one that calls us to love our enemies and bless those who seek to do us harm. It is the path of forgiveness shown to us by Amish and African American victims of gun violence. It’s the love of Jesus on the cross, who in weakness and death conquers the world.
We can choose to live in this way of courageous love. Even now, the spirit of Jesus is ready to intervene in history and show us how to be people of peace. Are you ready to accept this invitation?